A man who became a conservative icon in 2017 for showing up armed at political rallies where antifascists and right-wing activists clashed has been found guilty of possession of a weapon at one of those rallies in Berkeley in March of that year, Berkeleyside has learned.
Kyle Chapman, 43, is scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday in Dept. 11 at the René C. Davidson Courthouse in Oakland, according to court records. Chapman’s plea deal came approximately two years after the Alameda County district attorney’s office charged him with one felony count of possession of leaded cane or billy during a rally at Civic Center Park on March 4, 2017.
Photos and videos of the rally showed Chapman, then 41, wielding a large stick and hitting antifascist demonstrators with it. The actions earned the Daly City resident the nickname “Based Stickman” among rafts of supporters, who created memes and comics featuring Chapman, and donated tens of thousands of dollars to his cause.
According to court papers, Chapman changed his plea in the case from not guilty to no contest Aug. 7 before Judge James Cramer. Chapman, who was out of custody at the time of the hearing, was represented by private attorney John Noonan at the brief hearing.
According to police, Chapman showed up to Civic Center Park the day of the rally wearing goggles and a black baseball helmet as well as a backpack with metal buckles. Police wrote in court papers that Chapman sprayed “what appeared to be pepper spray” into a crowd of counter-protesters following an argument. According to police, Chapman “was involved with multiple altercations with many people that day” and was “swinging what appeared to be a wooden stick at many people.”
When Chapman was arrested March 4, 2017, according to police, he had “a piece of wood that had been fashioned and carried as a weapon.” BPD described it as a large stick with two small American flags attached to it.
As part of the plea agreement, Chapman would be placed on three years of felony probation, subject to search by police, and prohibited from owning weapons. Chapman also would be required to stay 100 yards away from Berkeley’s Civic Center Park, at 2151 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, as part of the deal.
Chapman gave up his right to a trial as part of the negotiated agreement and never had a preliminary hearing in the case, where evidence is presented to a judge who decides whether it’s credible enough to send to trial.
Cramer cautioned Chapman during the August hearing, according to a transcript, that a judge could ultimately reject his deal if Chapman didn’t comply with all the terms required by his sentencing date, Wednesday, Sept. 25, at 8:30 a.m.
“You must do three things between now and the sentencing date,” the judge told Chapman. “Cooperate with probation in the preparation of a report, don’t get arrested for any new offenses, and show up to court on time just like you did today.”
If Chapman fails to follow through, the judge said, he could be sent to prison for up to three years, according to a court transcript.
Chapman’s Berkeley case wasn’t his only legal trouble in recent years. In 2018, he was charged in Alameda County with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after a fight in July 2017 at the Dirty Dog Bar in Austin, Texas, according to court papers. According to police records, Chapman — despite a sling on his left arm — struck someone in the forehead with a large barstool and punched him during a mosh pit.
The victim was left with two black eyes and hemorraging in the brain, and required surgery for his injuries, police wrote in court papers.
The Travis County district attorney’s office did not reply to multiple requests for information about the status of the case.
Chapman also had faced federal charges relating to disorderly conduct and driving off-road in San Francisco’s Fort Funston in December 2017. In October 2018, Chapman pled guilty to the misdemeanor off-road driving count, according to court papers.
Noonan, Chapman’s defense attorney, did not respond to a request for comment from Berkeleyside. Chapman did not respond to media inquiries either.
Update, Oct. 2: According to the Travis County district attorney’s office, Chapman entered a negotiated plea of guilty on July 19 to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, which is a second-degree felony. The plea includes three years of deferred adjudication, according to the DA’s office, and Chapman was required to pay $10,000 of restitution up front, with “no early discharge, no contact, treatment and counseling as recommended, including anger management. He must also stay away from the bar where the brawl took place.
“Since he was sentenced to Deferred Adjudication,” according to the DA’s office, “if he does anything out of line the Judge can sentence him up to 20 years.”